USIU-Africa Library hosts an Open Journal System Workshop

Attendees of the Open Journal System workshop pose for a photo after the session. Photo: Courtesy.

By Mary Ngure and Dr. Patrick Wamuyu
In celebration of this year’s International Open Access Week themed, “Open for whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”, the USIU-Africa Library and Information center recently held a training workshop for selected participants to learn more about open access.
In line with the theme, Ms. Miriam Ndung’u, Head Librarian, ICT and Digitization Services from Kenyatta University took participants who included Faculty, Librarians, ICT staff and students through the topic ‘Starting and running a Journal using Open Journal System (OJS).’ Open Journal System (OJS) is an open source journal management and publishing platform by Public Knowledge Project (PKP) with a complete refereed publishing process from call for papers, submissions, peer review to publishing. PKP is a multi-university initiative and the project is overseen by Stanford University and Simon Fraser University Library.
According to Elsevier (2018), Africa generates less than 1% of the world’s research output despite comprising 12.5% of the world’s population. The question therefore is, ‘as the transition to a system for sharing knowledge that is open by default accelerates, are we supporting not only open access but also equitable participation in research communication?’
In her presentation, Ms. Ndung’u noted that starting a journal comprises of three main steps: policy decisions, technical decisions, and choice of publishing platform. Publishing journals not only increases an institution’s visibility but also improves web ranking, provides a publishing platform for postgraduate students and safeguards against fraudulent/predatory journals among other benefits. To date, there are more than 10,000 hosted journals by OJS.
For the success of a journal to be achieved, the key project players ideally constituting of librarians, research office, schools / departments and ICT need to be guided by well stipulated Terms of Reference (TORs) and clear reporting lines stipulated in the policy. The roles of the different players was discussed in depth. It is important from the onset to among other key things have a determination on compensation for editorial team and conflict of interest – shall the editorial board members be allowed to publish in the journal? Documentation and transparency of processes is thus key. Equally, understanding Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) criteria for inclusion and the Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS) framework which provides detailed assessment criteria for the quality of publishing practices was noted as best practices. In his vote of thanks, Dr. Patrick Wamuyu, Chair, Computing Department, School of Science and Technology, noted it was an essential discussion adding the paramount need to adhere to best practices in journal publishing including rigorous peer review.

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